Implementing Attribution Requires Change

For those of you thinking about attribution management solutions, one of the most important things to know before beginning your evaluation process is that marketing attribution measurement will significantly change the practice of marketing within your organization.  Unlike other technologies, attribution is not just a piece of software that sits in a corner and is pulled out every now and then to solve a specific issue or meet an ad hoc need.   It’s a tool that you will live and breathe with every day.  But even the easiest to learn, use and navigate attribution software will need to be operationalized within your organization, and that’s not necessarily a simple matter. 

Attribution is a New Approach

A more accurate statement might be that attribution is a paradigm shift that impacts many aspects of your marketing process.  Here are just a few of the ways that marketing measurement currently affects the decision-making of most marketing organizations:

  • Shapes media planning and strategy
  • Optimizes in-market media
  • Evaluates media that has already run
  • Gauges your media team’s performance
  • Allocate media budgets to the right channels
  • Drives creative development and evaluates costs



In fact, media measurement can’t be decoupled from media itself.  Right now, everyone in your organization is probably using the last ad metrics to drive all of these activities.  What if you discovered that upwards of 70 percent of all of your media elements (placements and keywords) were being over- or under-valued by more than 20 percent?  That’s generally what we see when we compare last ad and algorithmic multi-touch attribution.   If this holds true for your own media, it means that almost three out of every four decisions you make based on your performance data could be totally off the mark. 

A Shared Focus & Shared Rewards

So to get on target, your organization will have to change and adapt to implement a marketing attribution solution.  A common set of key performance indicators will have to be established across all channels of your enterprise, and business rules will need to be established so that marketing performance data is normalized to those KPIs.  Your agencies and marketing platform providers will need to be consulted and adapt themselves. Compensation and incentives that may have been based on individual channel performance may need to be adapted to focus on a shared enterprise goal.  Cooperation and integration will need to be rewarded and any silo-centric mentality eliminated. In effect, your environment will need to change so that everyone is pulling from the same end of the rope.

Not Their First Rodeo

The good news is that attribution management software providers have gone through this process with many clients -- of various business models, verticals, sizes and hierarchies (and their agencies/partners) – many times before.  They have built processes, created conversion/business rule templates, formed API relationships and “built the plumbing” to be as efficient and accurate as possible, ensuring this process is painless for brands and their agencies to undertake.  You need to rely on them; it’s not their first rodeo. They need to hold your hand and guide you throughout this daunting process.

Worth The Effort

The good news is that once implemented, these changes will provide the media strategy teams with the proper insights they need to do their jobs, the analysts the right optimization directions to execute, and more.  It will be very rewarding to see how attribution truly provides a much more accurate picture of how media is working in synergy and to watch as your optimization efforts pay off in increased ROI virtually every time.   What you will find is that the strategy and optimization you were implementing using last ad metrics really had little to no value – and that in some cases it was even counterproductive and decisions applied via these metrics actually generated poorer returns than if left alone!

Yes, adopting and operationalizing attribution is going to be a challenge in year one, but rely on your attribution solution provider to help with the organizational and logistical changes that they’ve helped others navigate.  Once implemented, you very well may look back on how your marketing organization used to function and wonder how it functioned at all.

3 comments about "Implementing Attribution Requires Change".
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  1. Nicholas Schiavone from Nicholas P. Schiavone, LLC, September 11, 2012 at 6:29 p.m.

    Anto, Can you provide a simple definition of the term "attribution" as it is used in the context of your blog today? What are the principles and procedures behind the "tool?"
    Perhaps you can you also provide references to white papers that might be helpful in understanding and developing the ideas you are advancing. Thank you.

  2. Andrew Flanagan from Lenovo, September 13, 2012 at 9:23 a.m.

    Anto, what is the ROI that you estimate when you are first looking at implementing an attribution model. Building an attribution mode requires an investment of people, tools & expertise - what's the ROI you should project as part of your business case to get the model off the ground

  3. Anto Chittilappilly from Visual IQ, September 17, 2012 at 1:19 p.m.

    Thanks for your question Andrew. Coincidentally, that’s the very topic I’m addressing in my column next month, so check back in about 3 weeks.

    The answers for your questions are there on my company website If you have further questions, please contact me at

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